Today, it wasn't clear who David Brooks had pissed off more: the liberals dismantling and re-constructing his New York Times op-ed, or conservatives, who are still too hurt by his initial support of Barack Obama to listen to his admission of guilt that the president duped him.
"One thing I've noticed is that columns in which you admit error generate more hostility than any other kind," writes Brooks in an e-mail to The Atlantic Wire.
The big splash Brooks made was venting his dismay with President Obama's decision to tack left on his $4.4 trillion deficit reduction plan and deliver a speech aimed at firing up liberals rather than engaging moderates and conservatives. "I’m a sap," Brooks wrote. "A specific kind of sap. I’m an Obama Sap." The column's main thrust is that Obama is departing from the strategy that got him elected—appealing to moderates and striving for a "centrist" pragmatism:
The White House has clearly decided that in a town of intransigent Republicans and mean ideologues, it has to be mean and intransigent too. The president was stung by the liberal charge that he was outmaneuvered during the debt-ceiling fight. So the White House has moved away from the Reasonable Man approach or the centrist Clinton approach.
It has gone back... to politics as usual... I was hoping the president would give a cynical nation something unconventional, but, as you know, I’m a sap.
On the left, The Washington Monthy's Steve Benen struck early: "The president’s willingness to ignore Brooks’ bad advice is heartening." Salon's Steve Kornacki was puzzled by Brooks's claim that "Obama is simply trying to appease an angry liberal base." "That's a total misreading," wrote Kornacki. "Is calling for higher taxes on the rich popular with the Democratic Party base? Sure. But what Brooks doesn't mention -- and may not even be aware of -- is that it's also popular with just about everyone else." At The New Republic, Jonathan Cohn wrote a lengthy spoof, borrowing the construction of Brooks's original column. Instead of the opener "I’m a sap, a specific kind of sap. I’m an Obama Sap" Cohn writes "I'm a sap, a specific kind of sap. I'm a David Brooks sap." And so on.